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Quotes (9/6): Shula, Bettcher, McGaughey, Barwin, Hill

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula

Q: How excited are you to see it all come together?

A: We’ve had some really good work. It’s been a fast six or seven months since we’ve all got here. Guys have worked really hard, and we’ve talked to all of our players on our team and offensively about earning the right to be here, having something to prove, which I think we all do. The guys are excited for the season, they’ve earned this opportunity to be here. We’ve got a tough challenge ahead and are just locking in on Jacksonville right now.  

Q: Can you talk about that Jaguar defense and the challenges they present?

A: They’re so talented. Their scheme, they are well-coached. It starts with the guys up front. They can be very disruptive up front in both the run game and the pass game. They’ve had a bunch of sacks last year just with rushing four people, and then everything else fits off that. They’re very talented in the back seven as well -- guys that can cover man to man, they’re fast when they’re in zone, they get to the ball very fast, and there’s a lot of guys that can get to the ball quickly. They’re really good. There’s a reason why they went as far as they did last year.

Q: Do they do a lot of exotic blitzes and stunts more so than some other teams? 

A: They have that ability and they can pull it out at any time, but they also can just kind of do things where they let their guys play and come off the ball, and they’re very effective doing both. I think that’s what kind of separates them or elevates them from other defenses in the league.

Q: The staff settled on the five offensive linemen pretty early in the summer and stuck with them. What do you see from that group, and are they ready for this kind of challenge? It’s a new group up front.

A: Yeah. Every snap we get out there on the field with those guys being together, collectively offensively, we feel like we’re going to get better. Your question is valid, we don’t have a lot of time on task together. You can tell our guys are talented. It means a lot to them, they communicate very well, and now it’s time. We’ve got live bullets coming Sunday against a really good team. We feel very comfortable with those guys, and (I’m) looking forward to them helping lead our offense.

Q: How important is it offensively to incorporate the multitude of weapons that you have in this first game?

A: We feel like we have to use the guys the best way we can. The number-one thing is to have our guys playing fast, and knowing what to do and doing it fast because we feel like if they do that, it gives us our best chance. We’ve got a quarterback in Eli (Manning) that is a fast thinker and can get the ball out, but we don’t want to force the ball to any one of those guys. We want to have Eli make good decisions and take what they give you, you hear that all the time, find the one on ones and things like that. Then as coaches, we want to make sure that we have enough stuff that gets the ball around to all those guys. We want to be versatile with our scheme, whether we’re running it, throwing it, quick game, drop back, play action, misdirection, but also versatile with where the ball’s going based on our personnel. 

Q: All preseason long, your offense didn’t play together. Does that create some trepidation or curiosity regarding how it’s all going to come together?    

A: There’s a newness regardless in the fact that we’re all here with Coach Shurmur, all of us that are new, but yeah, you’d like to have every snap, as many snaps as you can, game-like snaps together. But we’ve also got some guys with Eli and some other guys that have been here, and I think as coaches through the years you kind of get used to that, maybe the first time going through it. You’ve been around offenses that haven’t had that (and) you kind of get a little nervous, but you learn a little bit from that. Sometimes that might be the best thing too, where you’re resting guys and they’re feeling fresh, so there’s tradeoffs a little bit. We’re all excited about the opportunity to watch these guys for the first time together.

Q: What was your preseason evaluation of (Kyle Lauletta), because obviously the organization went with him over (Davis Webb) as the young quarterback? 

A: We think Kyle is a young guy that just has continued to get better with reps. He’s got very good football intelligence, I think he’s got some intangibles that you need at that position. For a young guy, and not just out there on the field, we’ve got him reps. Ideally, we try to get all the guys more reps, but you can kind of sense that day in and day out, the learning process that he’s going through and how quickly he’s picking things up – not just by what you see on the field, but how he is in the meeting rooms with the other players, always kind of thinking about things other than maybe just the way it’s drawn up. I think his arrow is definitely pointing up, and looking forward to working with him more.   

Q: Schematically, now that you and (Pat Shurmur) have been together for a while, how similar is the stuff he does to what you do and vice versa?

A: Coach has been great. He’s unbelievable to work for. He’s got a lot of energy, he’s very positive, very open-minded. As a staff, there’s a lot of guys that are working together for the first time – offensively, especially, but really throughout the staff. I think the main thing is, we all have ideas and convictions on things based on what we’ve done in the past or been around. We decide collectively. Ultimately it’s his decision, and then whatever that decision is, we make it the best one we can and we will. Again, I think that mesh point has been very comfortable, I would say, for both of us.  

Q: Over his first four seasons, when (Odell Beckham Jr.) is on the field, the Giants scored six more points per game than when he’s off of it. Now that you’ve spent an offseason with him, why has he been that valuable?

A: You guys have seen him up close. He’s really talented, as we know. He knows and gets football, all the little adjustments that maybe sometimes you have to tell other guys, he kind of gets them. All the elite receivers that we’ve all seen, they all have certain characteristics. He’s got really, really good hands and he’s a guy that has made big plays in big situations. He’s a big piece to our puzzle, but he’s not the only piece and we’re looking forward to having him and Eli get together and all those other guys where it all ties in together where we’ve got 11 guys doing the right thing and giving ourselves the best chance.

Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher

Opening Remarks: Our guys are really excited to get started. You can see it when we came in the building on Monday and then when we had practice yesterday, guys are really locked in, clued in, and excited to go play football. We’ve got a great opponent this week, a team that can run the football, as we all know – 141-ish yards a game a year ago, a team that will max protect and take some shots down the field. They’re going to get (Blake Bortles) on the perimeter with some boots and some movement passes. Then, the thing we’ve got to do a great job of is the screen game. We’ve got to be aware of when the screens are coming, whether it’s first (down), second down, third down, and be aware of some of the set-ups for some of those things. With the receiver (Marquis Lee) out, it’s going to be – whether it’s (Dede Westbrook), (Donte Moncrief), whoever it is that’s their guy that they’re going to try to hit down the field, those are the guys that we’re going to have to be aware of and just adjust during the first part of the game. I think our guys have had two really good days of practice, this morning’s walk-thru and yesterday’s practice and the work we did on Monday. I think they’re excited to go out there and play this Sunday.

Q: With so many new faces on the defense in the last week alone, how do you get them all ready?

A: One of the things is we’ve got some great ownership in the room, and we’ve got some guys that are really taking a hold of what we’ve been trying to do over the last five-six months as a defense. We’ve really tried to teach it as concepts, so the guys that are here understand the concepts, then you just feed those guys as they come in pieces and they learn on the way. Then they hear it from the other guys that are in the room having a conversation, then they spend some time outside the building with the guys that have been here, and you just take it day by day and you keep growing. I love what we’re doing about just searching and finding and working guys through. I’m excited about some of the guys that have come in, and I’m excited to work with anybody we bring in, because all we’re going to ask them to is to get their hand on the pylon and go to work.   

Q: A lot of those new faces are in the secondary. Is there something the guys who were here before weren’t doing that you needed more of, or anything specific on why the secondary went through such a change?

A: All along, we’ve been looking for guys that are going to be as we’ve talked, the third corner, the third/fourth/fifth safety, the next nickel in the game, and I think we’re always in search of trying to find who is the backup at some of those positions. I love cycling through and I think our guys in the room as coaches have loved it, and I think our players that are here are loving the fact that all we’re trying to do is get better each day. 

Q: The last time we spoke to you the free safety was pretty unsettled. What made (Curtis Riley) stand out as the guy there? 

A: Curtis really from the beginning has been playing pretty well for a guy that doesn’t have a lot of time on the job at the position. Obviously an outside guy converted inside, I think when you go look at little things like how much time he’s spending on his iPad watching tape, how engaged he is in meetings and the conversation he’s having in the classroom, then when you go out and watch the tape and he’s running around, some of the plays he’s made, obviously missed a little time with the injury, but has come off of that and really picked up where he left off. He’s a guy that his arrow is really up and I’ll be excited to watch him play this Sunday.

Q: Do you monitor how much time the guys (spend watching film)? Can you see that? 

A: We’re always aware of what our guys are able to do in terms of studying tape. We talk about it a lot on defense. There’s never enough time during an eight-nine hour day to get everything in and there’s always study that you have to do. To be honest with you, that’s one of the things I learned from the players I’ve been around. I’ve seen players, they just go watch so much tape. They come in before you provide the answers, they’re asking the questions that the answers are about to be for. Those guys are really important in the room, in the secondary room, in the linebacker room to have guys that are really engaged and leading the charge in their position groups on awareness of what’s going to happen before it happens.

Q: Can you talk about the two young guys, (Lorenzo Carter) and (B.J. Hill) and the growth you’ve seen from them since day one and where they are now?

A: (Lorenzo) is a guy that, the longer it goes with him, I think the thing I see the most is the faster he plays. He’s starting to really understand what we’re doing and what we’re asking of him, number one, then two, just as a rusher, he’s really learning how to rush. To me, as young players in this league, that’s a yearlong process that might be into year two with a lot of guys. Then with B.J., he’s just a guy that came in, he’s probably one of the most professional rookies I’ve ever been around. When he came in the building, he was business and he understood how we needed to work, a guy that takes care of his body – he’s just really ahead of his age in terms of years in the league. Both of those guys, they’re going to play very meaningful snaps in this game, play a lot of snaps in this game, and I’ll be excited to watch some of these young guys fly around and play.

Q: I would think you have probably made Olivier Vernon as one of your irreplaceable players. If so, how do you replace him?     

A: I think one thing we always do, if you don’t end up having a guy – and injury questions are always going to go to Coach Shurmur, I don’t ever want to answer injury questions – but if you ever were to have to play without someone, then it’s just the other guys at that position have to step up, and it’s going to be multiple guys handling whatever that job was, whether it’s OV outside if he doesn’t end up playing, or linebacker inside, or a guy at safety. There will be different guys sharing some of that responsibility.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: How do all the roster changes affect you?

A: It is what it is. Obviously, it affects you directly. You just got to make due with what you got. You get them up to speed as fast as you can, and just make sure that they’re ready for game day, everything is detailed out for them. Just go out there and play fast. Keep it simple, nothing big, just keep it simple.

Q: Where has (K Aldrick Rosas) grown the most since last year? Have you changed anything with him?

A: More mental than anything. He has a ton of talent. In his mind, he has to have confidence into himself, and just be able to repeat the same process, tedious process over and over again – in his mind as far as being able to take some steps back, see the target, and just relax and swing through the ball. He’s just one year out. He’s getting better.

Q: Did you make any changes to his kicking routine due to his long stride?

A: It’s always something that you got to do with kickers. It’s always just a minor adjustment here or there. He’s done a good job of adjusting, shortening his jab, so he can be more consistent.

Q: How are you health-wise?

A: This past offseason, they found a growth in my bowel duct. In that growth was cancer. They removed it. I had a very extensive procedure, called a whipple procedure. During the whipple, they found a cancer in one of my lymph nodes. I’ve been doing chemotherapy for about the last two months. I’m going on my fifth treatment, and it’s going good.

Q: (GM) Dave Gettlemen is going through chemotherapy as well. Has this made you two even closer than before?

A: It helps. We share our chemotherapy stories and talking about the medications and all that stuff. We definitely have our conversations. Dave is a great man. It is what it is. We just got to fight through it and keep moving.

Q: Do you have it under control? Are you still going through treatments?

A: I have a couple more treatments left. It is what it is.

Q: Have you had any scans yet to see where you are with it?

A: I had a scan, it was in Hackensack, three weeks ago. It was fine.

Q: How do you balance work and your health? Is it something that’s going to be time consuming for you?

A: I go down, I do my treatment, I come back. That’s what it is. Last time I did it, I had an extra day because it was the fourth preseason game. So, I had a little time. The next treatment, I’ll go down, do the treatment, then I’ll come right back.

Q: If Coach Shurmur came to you today and said he wants Saquon (Barkley) to do kick returns, and Odell (Beckham Jr.) to do punt returns, your response would be….?

A: Thank God (smiling). Pretty simple. With a huge smile. You see how big it is now? (laughter).

Q: (Shurmur) He’s kind of toyed with the idea of that, but do you expect to see that happen any time soon?

A: You just never know. These guys are playmakers. Anytime you get a chance to put playmakers out on the field, that’s a chance to win. That’s what you want to do, trying to win the game. That’s the purpose.

Q: Take those guys out of the equation are you looking forward to see the other guys? 

A: We got a bunch of guys back there that we’re working. We have some guys with experience. (WR) Kaelin Clay has experience. (WR) Cody Latimer has experience. So, we feel good about those guys and being able to move forward with them. I had Kaelin (in Carolina) last year and had some success with him. 

Q: You’ve had Odell in the past. What do you remember about his return skills from LSU?

A: Just like everybody sees on offense. It’s the same thing. You’re not going to change just because you’re playing special teams or offense. It’s the same exact skill set. He’s explosive. He’s a big-time playmaker. What you see is what you get with Odell. It is what it is.

Q: Does he know the fair catch sign? (laughter)

A: Obviously, Odell wants to make a play. When he gets a chance to make one, he’s going to try to make one.

Q: When you watch the tape of Saquon at Penn State, do you feel a little more comfortable about putting him on kick return?

A: Oh absolutely. He’s a special athlete. Both of those guys are special. Whenever you get a chance to get the ball in his hands, he’s a special athlete.

Q: Have you settled on your first team coverage teams for punts and kickoffs? There’s been some trouble with that in the past.

A: Those things are always under evaluation, based upon what we’re going to have on game day. A guy changes out here, a guy changes out there, who’s up, who’s down. You just never know. That’s the life of a special teams coach.

Q: What have you seen from P Riley Dixon in terms of his growth?

A: Riley has done a good job. He’s maturing. He’s a young guy. That’s the thing that people got to understand. Young players make mistakes. Offense, defense, special teams, they make mistakes, but they’re learning. Every day Riley is getting better. He’s taking the coaching. We made some minor adjustments as far as how he warms up. Getting him a settled in routine. He’s coming along. We look forward to it.

Q: Coming from Denver where the air is thinner, is that an adjustment he (Dixon) had to make?

A: Not so much an adjustment. I coached in Denver for two years. A lot of people talk about the altitude. It’s more of the ball just flies. It doesn’t hang, it just flies, and that’s a big difference. When we come back down to sea level, especially here, you got to deal with the wind every day, and that’s a whole different ball game. Those constant cross winds. It’ll get a little cold and it’ll get cold with the wind. That’s just something that he’ll have to look forward to down the road.

Q: When you finish the chemo, do you have to take it to radiation?

A: No, just chemo. It’s chemo and I take pills every day. So, just chemo pills, treatment, chemo pills, then I take a week off.

Q: Was there any doubt in your mind that you’d be ready for the season?

A: No, there was never a thought in my mind. I’m sure my doctor’s mind though – my families’ mind, my wife I’m sure had a bunch of thoughts. In my mind, I never even thought of that.

Q: How’s your energy been through the chemo?

A: It’s tough. As a football coach, you don’t think about this stuff. You get up, you do what you do, and live life. I’m not going to let any chemotherapy or cancer or anything else get in the way of what I do. I’m a football coach. I’m a father and a football coach, and that’s what I do. I got to get up every day. Nobody cares. They’re not going to feel sorry for you. It’s get up, go to work, and you got to earn your paycheck.

Q: Had you been feeling ill and they found it? Or did they catch it in good fortune?

A: Yeah, it was good fortune. Actually, I had two bouts with sepsis. They went in with the little endoscopy. When they did it, they saw the mass. The mass is kind of how I found out.

LB Connor Barwin

Q: Are you ready to go (with the knee)?

A: Yeah, I’m ready to go. I feel good. Like you said, it’s time to go. This is the real Week 1, so I’m ready to go. I’m excited about playing.

Q: How much do you look at it as you and (Lorenzo Carter) sort of combining to take those snaps from (Olivier Vernon)?

A: I don’t look at it that much. A lot of people are going to get reps, and me and (Lorenzo) are going to play. I’m excited to see what Zo does, and I’m excited to see what I can do, and we’re going to help each other throughout the game.

Q: I assume after so many years, missing training camp isn’t a major loss. You’re well-prepared? 

A: Yeah. I’ve played in a lot of NFL football games. You can say my legs are little fresh going into this week, because I had about a week and a half off of training camp, so it worked out. I did everything I had to do when I was down for those days. I feel prepared, I know what I’m supposed to do, and again, my legs are fresh going into Sunday. 

Q: Jacksonville is a good run team, and they also throw in that screen that keeps you guys awake. What else do you see from them? 

A: They do obviously run the ball well, and then like you said, they’re going to throw in a lot of screens, boots, kind of misdirection type stuff to try to slow down your rush. It’ll be a big challenge for us up front to stop that run, and then get out of the box and run down those screens and those sort of plays. 

Q: Can you talk about (Leonard Fournette), what you’ve seen from him?  

A: Yeah, I got to play him last year, a big running back. They give him the ball a bunch throughout the game – downhill runner, has the ability to breakaway and take runs the distance, so we’ll have to gang tackle him and, like I said, it’ll be a big challenge for us. 

Q: You guys have been very good about the run in the preseason. That bodes well?    

A: I don’t put much credit into the preseason, but yeah, something we pride ourselves in throughout camp with (Coach Bettcher) and what he talks about a lot is you have to stop the run. We put a lot of focus on it and it starts this week.

Q: One of the things that Gettleman said when you came here was that as guys get older, it’s more about quality snaps than quantity of snaps. I’m sure you feel like you can give them quality snaps, can you still give them the quantity of snaps that they may be needing if (Olivier Vernon) can’t play? 

A: Yeah, I’m ready to go. My body feels good. It’s funny when people talk about Lorenzo and me, I’m obviously closer to the end of my career and he’s right at the beginning of his, but majority of my career I’ve played maybe 90% of the snaps for every season, so I’m used to getting a lot of snaps. However things unfold here, whatever they ask me to do, I’m confident I’ll be able to do it, whether it’s all those snaps like I’ve done in the past, or a little bit less.    

Q: You got here a little later, you played the run game, and then you had to take some time off. Was that something that concerned you, or did you foresee that might happen?

A: No, I think that was just us being smart about getting ready for the season. That was us, again, looking forward to a 16-week season and making sure I was ready for that.

On not playing much throughout the preseason:

A: Yeah, it was just us being smart and getting ready for Week 1 of the season. 

Q: How much do you look at opening day differently than you did earlier in your career? Do the emotions still pop?

A: Honestly, it’s not that much different. Maybe other than my rookie year when I was just extremely nervous about my first NFL game, but after that, it’s still the same excitement. Being here in New York, I’m excited to have my first game here and then the start of a new season, what everybody looks forward to when a season ends the year before and you don’t win the Super Bowl. I’m excited to get this journey started this Sunday.  

On New York fans not cheering for you in MetLife in the past:

A: I’ve had a lot of good games in MetLife Stadium, and I expect to keep that going. Just with the right jersey on now. 

Q: They weren’t happy when you were having good games, though. Right?

A: No, New York wasn’t. But we’re going to turn that around now this Sunday. 

Q: Are you anxious to have some good games and have this home crowd rooting for you a little bit?

A: Yeah, I’m excited to see what MetLife is like being the home team here. It’s going to be fun. 

Q: Has Coach Bettcher leaned on you and (Alec Ogletree) a little bit because you played them, as far as attacking the Jaguars?

A: No, not really. He’s got it under control. We played them last year, and we won the game. I went back and watched the film. We did alright, but they ran the ball a little bit on us. That’s in the past, and we’re prepared this week for what the Giants defense is going to do and hopefully be a little bit better.

DL B.J. Hill

Re: your role

A: I’m just here to do my job. Whatever they ask me to do, and go about my business. That’s how I work.

Q: Do you feel like a rookie?

A: It’s my first year here, so I haven’t played a down yet in the NFL.

Q: What is the key to being a professional and making that adjustment in this league?

A: Like I said, doing your job. I’m coming in consistently just doing what I have to do, and what they ask.

Q: What do you think you’ll be feeling at 1 o’clock on Sunday?

A: Everything, I’m not going to lie, everything. It’s going to just hit me. I’m just excited to get out there and play with these guys.

Q: Will you be nervous?

A: I’ll be a little bit nervous, I’m not going to lie. It’s my first time out there.

Q: Have you learned to watch film differently or game plan and evaluate teams differently? Has anything changed in your preparation from college to the NFL?

A: I feel like that carried over to the NFL – how I watch film, how I look at offensive linemen, how I look at backfield sets, and different things to help me make a play and help our team make plays.

Q: How’s the communication been on the defensive line with limited snaps in the preseason? Has it been difficult to get on one accord?

A: Not at all. We’re brothers pretty much. We all get along pretty good. We communicate pretty well on the field too.

Q: Have you thought about the way you’re going to play and the type of plays you want to make come Sunday?

A: It’s going to be crazy. I’m just excited to get out there and just compete. They have a good run offense, and we got a pretty darn good run defense. So, I’m excited to battle them.

Q: Do you like to visualize things before they happen?

A: Oh yeah, I always visualize making plays and doing my job.

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